The transition from summer to winter in Malta brings with it some spectacular thunderstorms that transform the brown, arid landscape into one that’s bursting with greenery. Such storms generally span the months of September, October and early November and bring to an end the long, dry season. They can also occur in the spring when the wet winter gives way to the hot, dry summer.
These storms are generally characterised by gale-force winds and torrential rain, amidst sheet and bolt lightning and the rumble of thunder overhead.
The skies can turn almost black when the thick sheet of cloud envelopes the skies over Malta. Low-lying areas turn into lakes and roads into rivers, and sometimes cars are carried away in the gushing water, often close to coastal areas such as at Salina Bay, Xemxija and Msida. Hail showers sometimes accompany the intense rainfall.
Such weather causes havoc on Malta’s roads, often causing traffic jams and tailbacks all over the island. Often flooded roads are closed to traffic and cars can breakdown in the deluge. Sometimes power cuts ensue and mobile phone networks can go down.
On 25th October 2010, Malta experienced the heaviest rainfall for 70 years, during a storm that started gathering the evening before and caused havoc overnight and into the morning. In Luqa, 102 millimetres of rainfall were recorded in a 24-hour period. In Qormi, storm water drains were completely flooded and the water gushed into buildings in the area. One undertaker in the area had Euro350,000 worth of his empty coffins swept away. Rubble walls surrounding farmland were forced down and giant potholes appeared in many roads. No-one was injured. In a bizarre coincidence, the 25th October 1979 was also a day that brought with it similar storms and flooding. On that day, however, four people died when they were swept away by the sheer strength of the violent water flow.